Posts Tagged ‘June’

What the quilts reveal

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

Okay, so that was a LOT of fun! Not just making the quilt, and plotting and planning and scheming and thinking (then sewing and cursing and sewing and stitching…

Bevs June Self portrait

But maybe the most fun was “The Reveal” — i.e. show time!

Here’s how it happened. I arrived in the UK in June, after a month in Europe, and we were staying with old friends, Roger and Di. Roger was my “Man in Redbourne” – my fence – my parcel-keeper and message man – i.e. he received and kept the first Posted Stitches parcel until I could pick it up, several weeks later.

- “Hello folks, lovely to see you. – Oo! It’s my parcel!”

- rrrrrrriiip! Shred, shred, shred…


Excited, fabric in hand, the stitching and embellishment began – I’m a gal with a deadline, and there’s only two weeks of June left. There’s been thinking, but now I need to stitch.

Two weeks later, late one evening in London, cosy in the flat of best friends, an email from Jennifer: ‘are you there? Can we chat?’

Now, bear in mind that we’ve never met. We’ve chatted once on Skype, but this was even more fun – we got the video conferencing going and talked away until the wee hours (my end), late afternoon (her end). “And here’s what I put here…. and this is what I did with that fabric you sent me…” It was ace! Odd to talk to a mostly-stranger – wonderful to find someone so on the same wavelength.

And amazing to see what each other had done with our fabric packs. When you pack the parcel, you get a vague idea of what might be made with it – for example, at the last minute I threw in a scrap of brown fabric, because I knew Jennifer’s hair is brown. But she embroidered her hair: the brown became a different part of the quilt entirely.

Somehow both of you get a hand in the creation of this thing, this little piece of art that is all learning, all stitching and thinking, and a tangible part of a new and growing friendship.

Hurrah for technology, I say. Let the second challenge begin!

This Is Me… In Fabric And Thread

Monday, June 30th, 2008

Hi Bev.

Well, this is it. My first quilt is done. Can you believe we’re actually doing this?! I’m so glad you were willing to take me up on this challenge. If you had dismissed me as crazy, it’s doubtful that I would have went through with the project on my own.

My strategy for this first quilt was to do a lot of thinking. I mulled over my ideas until midway through the month. So I didn’t actually start stitching until about two weeks from our deadline. This was a little scary considering the fact that I’ve never made an art quilt before. Thankfully, once I started stitching it came together fast. It helped that I spent about two weeks leading up to that first stitch thinking about this project and what I was going to try to do. I find working this way so much better than trying to create something on the fly.

Here is the process that led me to my finished piece:

I started by taking a self-portrait using the camera on my MacBook. Then I used a light box to transfer the image to fabric.

I used a paper piecing technique to applique the hand.

Then I started stitching like mad. The hair was easy. The eyes were tough. The nose proved to be the most difficult.

I kept stitching and stitching, and when the front was done I decided to do the back, too. Here’s how that came out.

I made a paper template by tracing around my hand and used a piece of apple fabric from my stash to balance the “treat” fabric on the front of the quilt. I cut the butterfly from one of the swatches you sent.

This quilt could be interpreted a number of ways. Perhaps I’m saying “no” to sweets and “yes” to healthy eating.

I don’t know about you, Bev, but I surprised myself with this one. I wasn’t sure I’d be successful embroidering a likeness of myself and I’m delighted with the outcome. What a kick to have my first art quilt out of the way!



Looking and thinking, thinking and looking…

Friday, June 20th, 2008

Hi Jennifer,

Holbein the Younger, Portrait of a Member of the Wedigh Family, 1532I got an idea for the self portrait! Somewhere across Europe, in a gallery (yes, I am being vague – er, I forget which one), I saw a portrait of a man, painted during the Renaissance, which had an enormous sense of life to it. ‘Wow’, I thought, standing in front of it; ‘That man’s character glows. He was so alive.’

I realised that the artist had used a trick of the eye to set his portrait apart: he’d painted a window ledge into the front of the painting, and in the picture, the man’s arm was leaning on the ledge. Simple, but effective – I think it makes it look as if the person in the painting is about to lean forward out of the picture. So that’s my borrowed idea: I’m going to do my self portrait leaning on a ledge.

- – - -

But at first I can’t quite reconcile the fabric in the pack you sent me with the classic colours of a renaissance portrait. The funny thing is that while I’m working on it, everyone who sees the final portrait says to me, ‘Oh, that’s your blue’, pointing to the bright blue I used for my shirt. Somehow they assume that you knew. But we’ve never met!

I sketched on trains and pulled your fabric pack out of my rucksack a hundred times before I got an idea. People must have thought I was – odd – sitting on the train going across Denmark or the UK, staring hard at a bunch of scraps of fabric. Suddenly I got it: I need to celebrate the bright colours! It’s obvious – I need this portrait to be playful, too, and the fabrics you sent are perfect for that!

There will be applique, beads, and embellishment. Oh yes, I like the chenille ribbon you sent, mmm, it’s so fuzzy. I’m inspired by a Melbourne quilter I once met, Olga Walters. Her quilts are fun and loosely collaged. I’m going to try for that look. I’ll let myself break the ‘rules’…

Detail of face

The face was the hardest part, and in the end, I took a photo my husband had taken of me, and with the photo on my laptop and a borrowed scrap of notepaper from a friend, I tried to draw the outline of my face and to map in my features.

When it was close enough, I pricked holes through the drawing at regular intervals and dotted through the holes onto the fabric with a mechanical pencil. This gave me a faint dotted line to trace, and then to stitch around.

Does it look like me? I don’t know. Most people recognise it right away, but I still think it’s a little off. But I do like it: this little quilt came right around the world with me, and it’s tied to so many memories as I stitched away in several countries and cities. Mirror of the world and my memories.


The mirror of the world

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

Self Portrait in my gardenWhen Jennifer and I agreed to make the first of our monthly themes a self portrait, it sounded like a great way to introduce the project and ourselves. Trouble is, when you sit down to create a portrait of yourself, you’ve got to decide exactly who you are (today), and who you want to portray.

So, I was on the road when this project began. In Italy, I woke up in Rome after a long dream-like dark night flight from Australia, to Bangkok, and finally to Rome.

Monday morning, 7AM, and we are pushing through rush-hour traffic from the airport; the streets get narrower, our taxi gets lost, and finally we get out to walk in golden-stuccoed streets to the hotel, which we’ve spied down a one-way lane. In Rome.

Jet lag is confusing at the best of times. I’m up at 4AM in this city of myths and legends, Family Portrait cartoonancient hero-city, full of images. I’m trying to sketch an idea for a portrait: it’s daunting. Should I draw my features as close as possible to reality? Do I do one of my cartoon Bev-portraits, a familiar thing but not exactly challenging? What about a theme-portrait: an image that represents all the things I am and that make up me, at the moment: my stitching, my writing, my love for my husband and family, my dog, the fun of travel, and art – always art.

When I travel, the things around me that make it easy to define who I am – they fall away. What’s left is the bubble that I carry around: if it’s constant everywhere, it must be me.

I decide that somehow, this is what I will sew: a portrait of the person who is always there, looking out, all the time.

I’m going to find her by traveling, looking at new places while keeping an internal eye open for what remains the same. Using the world as my mirror. I’m curious to see who will turn up!